The Shedd Institute is extremely pleased to announce its 3rd major project with the extraordinary Siri Vik: "Where Or When: The Life & Lyrics of Lorenz Hart."
The witty, light-hearted, and, at times, gentle, haunting and deeply sad lyrics of Lorenz Hart have often graced our work here at The Shedd. As one of the luminaries of the classic Songbook, he is an inescapable source: selections from his huge catalog with Richard Rodgers have peppered Shedd concerts for 18 years, they've been the focus of several of those concerts (with the Jazz Kings and at OFAM), and to date we've mounted 4 of Rodgers & Hart's 30 musical comedies in their entirety (two in which Vik starred) -- Babes In Arms (1937), the 1943 revival of their 1927 madcap A Connecticut Yankee (Hart's final work), The Boys From Syracuse (1938), and Pal Joey (1940). And he'll continue to be a primary source for us forever as far as we're concerned.
But there is also something very special about Lorenz Hart that made us want Siri Vik -- who so masterfully treated, first, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht
, then Edith Piaf and Jacque Brel
-- to take him on as her next Shedd project. Hart was a master, certainly, of 'society verse' -- that specific style of lyric which was dominant both on Broadway and in Hollywood during the golden age of musical comedy. Witty, playful, and oh so cool, these songs are as often love songs as any other popular genre but, as Ira Gershwin noted, do everything possible to avoid actually saying
"I love you". And, other emotions? Not a chance! Light, sophisticated, erudite, and full of word-play, literary allusions, and sardonic, placid commentary on the modern condition, these songs were perfect for the 1920s-30s New York "Society" frequented by the likes of Noel Coward and Cole Porter...and for everyone else who wished they were a part of it.
Yet, at the same time, snuck in among those multi-syllabic rhymes (Hart regularly accomplished 4), prep school/Ivy League references and Latin quotations, folded in with the double entrendres and the endless embrace of popular culture, there were feelings...tender, heartfelt, often sad and lonely. And, when they deftly flip up and catch you off-guard right in the middle of a bon mot or good joke, are truly moving.
There was no one who did this more or better than Lorenz Hart. And, to our mind, there is no one better than Siri Vik re-introduce the man and his lyrics to us in the full range of their mood, technique and spirit.
-- Jim Ralph, Executive Director